The Cabinet Office is actively investigating ways to stop Dominic Cummings from publishing further damaging information about his time in government, but will not resort to the courts, according to reports.
Recent revelations from the former chief adviser to prime minister Boris Johnson have included WhatsApp transcripts suggesting the PM believed former health secretary Matt Hancock was “f***ing hopeless”.
Cummings’ unprecedented evidence to the joint Science and Technology Select Committee and Health and Social Care Select Committee inquiry into the government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic also gave explosive insight on how the developing crisis was handled.
The Financial Times reported that four unnamed senior officials had told it that the Cabinet Office had explored what action could be taken against Cummings, who left government at the end of last year, with a view to stopping the release of further damaging information.
It said lines of inquiry included whether he had potentially breached his employment contract as a special adviser, the civil service code, General Data Protection Regulation legislation or the Official Secrets Act.
The FT said one well-placed civil servant had told it that conversations on how to deal with Cummings remained “active”, but another appeared to suggest that direct legal action had been ruled out.
The paper said one senior government figure acknowledged that trying to silence Cummings could be counterproductive.
“We could bring the whole force of the state down to bear on him, but where could that lead?” they said. “There is a strong body of thought that he would like to be in court and could reveal a load more damaging stuff under oath.”
The Cabinet Office told the FT that "it would be inappropriate to comment on individual staff matters”.
Cummings tweeted a list of questions asked by report co-author George Parker, who is political editor of the FT. He did not answer them.